[OPE-L:8547] Re: 'Simulating the Law of Value' by Ian Wright

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Tue Mar 04 2003 - 15:16:46 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ian Wright" <ian_paul_wright@hotmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 1:35 PM
Subject: Re: 'Simulating the Law of Value' by Ian Wright

Dear Jerry,

Thanks for forwarding my messages to OPE-L. I'd be grateful if you could
forward the following in response to Rakesh.

All the best,



Dear Rakesh,

>Let me ask first how you are defining a simple commodity economy.

I've had to elaborate the definition of a SCE in order
to apply a computational modelling approach. There are four parts to this:
(i) examining what Marx wrote about simple circulation prior to the
appearance of workers and capitalists in volume 1 of Capital, and some
remarks in volume 3; (ii) examining Rubin's account, which I think
correctly emphasises the reallocation of social labour-time; and
(iii) developing an  abstract specification of a set of computational rules
sufficiently precise to build a runnable simulation, and (iv) building the
simulation itself,  which is a computer program. The movement from
(i) to (iv) represents an  increase in specification detail (although the
model is essentially abstract  throughout). I'd suggest that Marx's and
Rubin's comments, written in  natural language rather than a more precise
language, represent incomplete  and variously interpretable specifications
of the SCE. This is to be  expected. The definition of the SCE I'm working
with is best considered at  the computational rule level, because that is
sufficiently precise to be reproducible by others who may wish to replicate
and extend the  computational experiment. So to answer your question: my
definition of the  SCE is the set of rules that I outline.

Given this, it follows that the SCE as I define it is not the only possible
(computatational) realisation of the simple commodity economy. In fact,
there are a family of "nearby" models that are undoubtedly worth
investigating. Of course I would argue that I've made a reasonable set of
decisions in moving from (i) to (iv) so that the SCE I present is pretty
much canonical.

You'll notice there isn't a lot of history here. I view this approach to
modelling the SCE as separable from the debate about whether the SCE was
realized by a productive community in the past. However, determining
precise sufficient conditions for the law of value to operate could help
those interested in the history of economics to make educated guesses 
about whether past communities satisfied those conditions and therefore
instantiated it.

Therefore the question of the relation between the abstract model of the
SCE and patriarchal agrarian households is very interesting. You've
provided some detail on how such communities operated, so I can begin
to think about the relationship, and I ask for your patience. I hope you
can agree that a computational modelling approach can contribute to
deciding these issues,  even if it turns out that my particular model does
not decide this particular issue.


 >From: "gerald_a_levy" <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>
>To: "Ian Wright" <ian_paul_wright@hotmail.com>
>Subject: Re: 'Simulating the Law of Value' by Ian Wright
>Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003 13:18:13 -0500
>Dear Ian: thank you for your reply.  I have forwarded
>it to OPE-L.  I'll give your reply some thought and may
>respond again.  Keep in touch.
>Comradely, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Mar 06 2003 - 00:00:00 EST